COA: will can be admitted in Indiana

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Relying on the majority rule, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded that a man’s will that was denied probate in Illinois could be admitted in Indiana to deal with real property located here.

Florian Latek owned his family’s farm in Porter County, but lived in Chicago and also owned real and personal property in Illinois. He executed a will, but he did not have it notarized. An Illinois court denied probate of Latek’s will because it failed to conform with Illinois’ self-proving requirements and because the witness’ signatures couldn’t be validated by testimony or by a formal attestation clause as required by Illinois law. His real and personal property in Illinois has since been distributed.

Nicholas Grapsas, the Illinois public administrator of Latek’s estate, challenged the admission and probate of the will in Indiana court concerning the Indiana property. Grapsas argued that because the Illinois court had already determined the will was invalid under Illinois law, Indiana was precluded under the doctrines of res judicata and full faith and credit from deciding the same issue.

On interlocutory appeal in In the Matter of the Estate of Florian T. Latek; Nicholas G. Grapsas, et al. v. Gerald Ronneau, No. 64A05-1103-ES-112, the COA found the majority rule – which provides that title to and disposition of real estate either by deed or will is governed by the law of the state where the land is situated – to be applicable. The judges cited cases from outside of Indiana as well as an Indiana Supreme Court case from 1897 that stated Indiana will follow the majority rule.

“We therefore conclude that under the majority rule, the Illinois Court’s denial of Latek’s Will to probate because it failed to comply with Illinois’s statutory execution requirements has no effect on the subsequent admission and probate of Latek’s Will in Indiana as it concerns the disposition of real property located in Indiana. Principles of res judicata and full faith and credit have no application in matters involving probate and title to realty,” wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander.

The appellate court also found the Indiana trial court did not abuse its discretion in appointing James Bozik, Latek’s attorney, as personal representative of Latek’s estate.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues